Skip to main content

[Review of Frederick Douglass]

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, by Charles W. Chesnutt. Small, Maynard & Company.

It is difficult, in so brief a work, as the Beacon Biographies, of which this volume is one, to do full justice to so noble a character as that of Frederick Douglass, yet here we find graphically brought out the strongest features of his remarkable personality and the influence he exerted on the course of events in his lifetime.

In these days when race prejudice is a crying issue, and the possibility of raising the moral and intelectual standard of the negro is being warmly discussed, this brief story of the life of Frederick Donuglass[sic] is of more than passing interest, revealing as it does the deplorable conditions to which slavery condemned its victims, from which their descendants have not yet entirely emancipated themselves. The line of scorn and proscription drawn between them and the white brethren and the difficulties that beset the path of the man who was determined to conquer this bitter race prejudice are vividly pictured. We see the slave passed on from his master to his master's relative and back, laboring with no hope of recompense save food and clothing. We follow with interest his attempt to escape, that finally met with success, his struggle to educate himself, and throughout the remainder of his career as champion of his oppressed race in the forum of public opinion, he commands our respect and warm sympathy. From the platform where his marvelous eloquence and gift of oratory swayed minds of his hearers, through the press, where his trenchant pen traced the principles of freedom and justice on the hearts of his readers, he devoted his every thought, his mightiest efforts to the betterment of his suffering race. Truly, "it was, after all, no misfortune for humanity that Frederick Douglass felt the iron hand of slavery; for his genius changed the drawbacks of color and condition into levers by which he raised himself and his people." Mr. Chesnutt has made a thorough study of his subject and placed the result before us in this little volume that is an important addition to current literature.